A warm and smokey homemade North African spice blend is used to season chicken thighs in this quick and easy weeknight dish. Just season, sear, and bake for a simple but flavourful main the whole family will love!
I've been fairly obsessed with North African flavours for the past year (check out my Moroccan Chickpea Soup and Moroccan Red Lentil Soup if you haven't already seen them). Since I've discovered the magic of the spice blends of the region I've been craving them on everything. Imagine spicy, but not hot, also robust and warm. Perfect for cold winter nights.
Maybe you've heard of ras el halout? It's the name for Moroccan spice blends, and the name literally translates to 'head of the shop'. Basically, every store has it's very own blend consisting of their best spices so every shop's blend is different and can include as many as 30 spices!
This North African spiced chicken uses a simplified version of ras el halout with just 7 spices, many of which you likely already have in your cupboard. It's a quick and easy weeknight dish that will easily bring fresh new flavour to chicken night!
Why you're going to love this!
- Pantry ingredients - the name of this dish may sound exotic, but if you've made a fall pie, tacos and curries before you probably have all the spices on hand.
- Quick and easy - just season, sear and bake and dinner is on the table in 30 minutes.
- Versatile - this recipe is written with boneless chicken thighs because they are quick and easy to cook, but see 'variations' below for how to use this spice blend on chicken breasts or bone-in thighs.
- Leftovers - this recipe makes about 6 servings - we love having leftovers for lunch the next day!
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs - these are quick and easy to cook and the deeper flavour of the dark meat is a perfect match for the spices.
- Spices - I used turmeric, ground coriander, cumin, cayenne, smoked paprika, cinnamon and all spice. A bit of mace, ground cardamom and ginger are nice here too if you have them.
How to make it
- Season the chicken - place the chicken in a large bowl then add the olive oil and spices. Use a pair of tongs to turn and toss the chicken pieces until they are evenly coated with spices.
- Sear the chicken - Using a large frying pan or heavy bottomed skillet heated to medium-high sear the chicken pieces 1-2 minutes per side before removing them from the pan and placing on a parchment lined baking sheet. Searing the chicken adds a layer of flavour and helps to hold in the moisture to keep the chicken juicy. For a good sear, don't use a non-stick skillet, use stainless steel or cast iron.
- Bake the chicken - bake the chicken in an oven heated to 350ºF for about 15 minutes. The most accurate way to check for doneness is with a thermometer. Chicken is fully cooked with it reaches 165ºF.
What to serve it with
This chicken goes well with everything from salad, to your favourite veggie and sides like couscous, rice or potatoes.
Some of my favourite suggestions from the blog are:
- Fattoush Salad - this fresh salad is a great Mediterranean side dish whose flavours pair well with this chicken.
- Bean salad with lentils - this easy side dish can be thrown together in minutes when using canned beans.
- Parmesan Risotto - creamy and comforting, this basic risotto is a fun fusion blend when with the smokey spiced chicken. Add your favourite green veggie side!
This recipe is written with boneless skinless chicken thighs, but you could use this spice blend on any chicken pieces!
- for chicken breasts: follow the same directions but give yourself about 25 minutes for the baking time.
- for bone in chicken thighs: pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towel, brush the tops with some oil, mix the seasoning together and sprinkle evenly over the chicken. Bake at 400ºF for about 40 minutes.
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North African Spiced Chicken
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- 2.5 pounds chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
- 3 Tablespoons avocado oil (or other high temperature cooking oil)
- 1 Tablespoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon all spice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- Add the chicken to a large bowl then drizzle with avocado oil and all the spices. Using a pair of tongs turn and mix the chicken pieces and spices together until they are evenly distributed over the chicken.
- Sear the chicken about a minute or to per side on a large frying pan heated to medium high heat.
- Bake in the oven at 350ºF for 15 minutes, or until the internal temperautre reaches 165ºF.